The clouds of Easter Sunday’s tragedy, heavy with the blood of the innocents, haven’t still drifted away. And even as tears continue to fall to soak the ground with exquisite sorrow and make the Moss Rose bloom in the memory of the dead, the outpouring of mass national grief has also served to sprout the [...]


Islam is their burka: Terror is their faith


The clouds of Easter Sunday’s tragedy, heavy with the blood of the innocents, haven’t still drifted away.

And even as tears continue to fall to soak the ground with exquisite sorrow and make the Moss Rose bloom in the memory of the dead, the outpouring of mass national grief has also served to sprout the weeds of hate.

Anti-Muslim phobia is on the rise and, before it becomes a pestilence on a peaceful bed of roses, it must be nipped in the bud. Uprooted from the soil. The sooner the better.

Emotion must not be allowed to get the better of us all. Else, perhaps in 10 years or less, the nation will be engulfed in a war a thousand times worse than the one fought with the Tamil Tigers for over 30 years.

The world knows that seven brainwashed Muslim fanatics walked into three churches of the catholic faith and bombed those at prayer to kingdom come. The world knows three major hotels in Colombo were blasted whilst the guests were enjoying their Easter Sunday brunch.

What the world does not know is the grand design behind it. Who the grandmaster is? The one pulling the strings and making his marionettes go blast and kill themselves?

Just think. What did Easter Sunday’s bombings achieve for the extremists? What cause did it forward? What religious stairway to heaven did they build? And if the Almighty God did indeed create the world and all its myriad life forms, what purpose was served to wring the tears of Allah at the senseless slaughter of His own creation, His own seed and blossom?

Did it bring them nearer to their God?

The carrot put forward as bait, the reward for dying in a jihadist war, is not to have tea with their God and chat with their maker about the meaning of life.  But to have intercourse with  72 virgins, all bent to sate one carnal desire: how to lose their hymens by one suicidally bent man who blew his manhood to bits in the blast on earth before landing in heaven impotent, tool less.

And did these misguided, brainwashed, fanatical Muslim rich youth ever wonder whether their quota of 72 women were lesbians on earth? Which may well explain why they are still virgins in heaven?

Didn’t they question what’s so divine about sex in heaven when it can easily be found on the streets on this earth at a much cheaper price than the cost of one’s life?

Nay, there is a higher purpose – not in heaven but on earth, a sinister force that works in mysterious ways; and which, from their engineered rubble, seek their own Phoenix to rise. Who that is, none can say. And even the president or the prime minister is free from blame if they say, “we don’t know.”

For the issue may not be Sri Lanka. This teardrop isle set in the Indian Ocean may be just a pawn to be sacrificed at will and at leisure to promote the interest of the king and queen, the knights and bishops on a chessboard of international power play.

Be that as it may, the sins of the rabid few must not be allowed to visit the many Muslims who live in peace and harmony with the rest of Lanka in this multi-cultural land we all call home.

But let’s not beat about the bush. Let’s face it. Have it out in the open. There is an undercurrent of anti-Muslim vitriol flowing through the land. The social media is rife with it. The grapevine is a burst with it. It is not overt. It is insidious. The call is to boycott legitimate Muslim businesses, not to give patronage to their enterprises. To shun them like the black plague and condemn them as pariahs, as outcasts and exile them beyond the pale of human society.

But where will such a trend lead us all? Before we take that road – a road not unfamiliar to the Sinhalese – for some indeed did go down that path in 1983 and tarred all Tamils as being terrorists, and did not merely boycott Tamil businesses but burnt them down, did not merely isolate the Tamils but killed them.

Who suffered in the end? The answer is known to all and needs no retelling. And whilst the Tamil community came to be labelled as terrorists for the heinous action of a few, so did the Sinhalese come to be tarred by the international community as being barbaric racists, for the actions of a few. For the actions of a politically-motivated and power-charged mob committed that tragic day, the 23rd of July 1983.

Ask yourself. Was the world fair in labelling you a violent racist for the dastardness of a few? Was it right for the world to condemn Buddhism as a violent creed that had spawned such violence, when we knew in our hearts from birth the ahimsa it preached towards all beings on earth? We watched in despair the Sinhala race being so tarred and our religion, Buddhism, so blackened; and, though collectively we were forced to accept the responsibility, we knew we were not singularly guilty.

We, too, have had our own share of extremists, though thankfully not to the same degree as the Easter Sunday bombers, but when it comes to extremism can it be quantified in degrees? Love is love. Hate is hate. It’s all or nothing. There’s no half way house.

As the Vesak moon waxes to its climax this coming Saturday, it will be wise to reflect upon the counsel of the Buddha, who, when asked who is a Brahmin replied: “Not by birth but by deed is one a Brahmin.”

So it is with all. Be they Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burgher or Malay, none was born to a particular race out of choice. Their karmic fate, as the Buddhist and the Hindus would hold, or providence as the Christians would call it, or the will of Allah as the Muslims would believe, ordained their birth, none had any choice in the matter. Fate determined it for them.

But free will, which operates in the midst of ordained fate, gives us choice to act as we will. And merely because a handful of Muslim zealots in search of virgins in heaven chose out of their own free will  to blow themselves up and wreak carnage on a blessed Easter Sunday, it is unreasonable, it is unjust to hold the entire race of Muslims who bear the sword of  Islam as their faith as being responsible; and judge each one not on their deeds but condemn them wholesale on the quirk of their birth – even as the Buddha expounded when it came to describing what makes a man a Brahmin.

Even a distraught nation struggles to come to terms with their grief and sorrow, the Buddha’s words of truth must serve to enlighten us all: Not by birth by deed must a person be measured.

In the light of this, even as the hunt must go on to track down and eliminate this deadly menace, extreme caution should be exercised not to drive the peace-loving Muslim majority to the enemy camp even as a rabid section of the Sinhalese successfully did in driving Tamil youths to the Tigers’ lair with their jingoism.

Or else this nation will face a terror war that will be worse than it experienced for thirty years. Not every Tamil Tiger was a fanatic. They may have been prepared to die in battle but only a handful were willing to be martyred as suicide bombers. Theirs was a political ideology, to establish a separate state on Lankan soil. And they all wished to remain alive to occupy it at some distant date. Not a religious one that dictated death on a jihad to be the only means to gain entry to  a bordello in heaven.

Their support base was mainly in Tamil Nadu, the southern Indian state of a fifty million Tamils, 99 percent on the poverty line and the funds they received can now be compared to peanuts as to what the Muslims have in their secret vaults the world over, with a worldwide population of over a billion, with the auspices of the richest oil rich nations in the globe, some of them following the most radical form of Islam, Wahabism, the state sponsored form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia.

The House of Saud’s links with Wahabism goes way back in time. And still does. The US State department has estimated that during the last forty years or more that various organisations in Saudi Arabia have directed some ten billion US dollars to charitable foundations world over to promote the radical faith, to subvert the mainstream Sunni Islam.

Thus we must tread with caution. We are on dangerous ground. Though national chauvinism may make the Sinhalese temporarily heady to trample the rights of the peaceful Muslims here in wild abandon, they will all be rendered cold sober if the Arab world refused to sell us oil and send us instead all the Lankan housemaids – who contribute 8 billion dollars to the national economy – packing home.

This week Minister Rauff Hakeem, addressing a press conference said: “There is a hidden hand which wants to destabilise this country and destroy its economy. We have to identify that hidden hand in order to prevent possible attacks in the future. After the terror attack, search operations have been conducted and that should not be unnecessarily sensationalised. We must differentiate between normal criminal activity and terrorist activity.”

He further added: “It is important to leave it to the security authorities to properly differentiate between all these aspects and take forward their search operations in a very orderly manner”.

Last week, the All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ulama (ACJU) President Sheik M I M Rizwi Mufti said he gave details about the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) Leader Mohamed Zahran to former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando in January this year. He said he urged him to arrest this man. The Mufti said he had informed the responsible people in the present regime on the presence of IS terrorists in Sri Lanka and details on its cadres.

“I asked them to arrest them. But, they told me that they will take them in for rehabilitation but nothing was done,” the Mufti said. “I am the first to reveal the presence of IS terrorists in Sri Lanka way back in 2014. I informed the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa about it, but nothing was done. I gave the same to Hemasiri Fernando three months ago but nothing was done.”

On Thursday the same All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ulama (ACJU) was to warn the government to be wary of alienating the Muslim populace. They said, that whilst they condemned the Easter terror attack, it is unfortunate that the Muslim community is being harassed and targeted because of the action of a few individuals.

Speaking at a media briefing ACJU President Rizwe Mufti said: “We Muslims, as responsible citizens extended our full support to the security forces to identify the culprits who were involved in this attack. We have claimed previously that those who were engaged in terror attack on innocent civilians in the name of Islam do not belong to us and we consider them to be people who have committed a crime against humanity. We even did not accept their bodies for burial in our graveyard.”

“We take this opportunity to thank the Muslims community for conducting themselves as responsible citizens by supporting the security measures of the defence mechanism.  We appeal to all religious and civil leaders to join hands in rightly guiding the people of their respective areas to prevent communal conflicts, and also to the public to refrain from spreading rumours through different forms of media.”

When the Muslims extend their hand to mourn with the rest their dead and express their solidarity with the nation, we should not spurn it but embrace it. Communal hatred leading to war is not something this country can afford anymore. It must learn from the mistakes it made that led to the Eelam war and make full use of that experience. Not to err again. Or go down that same road again.

Prof. Rohan Gunaratne, who is based in Singapore is the Professor of Security Studies at the Nanyang Technological University. Billed by the Daily FT as an eminent counter terrorism expert, he said in an interview with that newspaper this week that the Islamic State (IS) no longer has the capability to mount a large-scale attack on Sri Lanka as 95% of its network in the country has been dismantled by the security forces since the Easter Sunday carnage.

He also confirmed that the mastermind of the local affiliated IS, Zahran Hashim, had blown himself up at the Shangri-La Hotel Colombo on Easter Sunday, and urged the Government to scrutinise and review the ideologies and practices of all Thowheed organisations while supporting and encouraging the local and traditional Islam that has been practised in Sri Lanka to dismantle the IS ideology in the country.

But he also warned: “Zahran’s goal was to break the bonds between the Muslims and non-Muslims and to create discord leading to a riot.  His actions aimed at precipitating more violence between Muslims and non-Muslims in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans should understand the ideology, aims and objectives of IS and create an even closer relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, and prevent the further spread of the IS ideology.

“When the Sri Lankan security and intelligence community received the intelligence alerts, the Government was complacent. The Government should help restore and maintain the trust between Muslims and non-Muslims. Unless the Government works with Muslim leaders, more Muslim youth and even entire families will get politicised and radicalised. The Sri Lankan Government should reach out to the Muslim leaders and help them to build a Sri Lanka Muslim Council to provide a vision, guidance and a direction to the community.

“At this point, there is no secular Muslim body with intellectuals and businessman providing leadership to the community. The Government should not overreact to the threat, but respond appropriately. As IS had infiltrated the Muslim community, the search operations should be conducted carefully to win over the Muslim community and not push them into the hands of the extremists and terrorists.”

What the nation must realise is that if we isolate the Muslims, if we make them lose their sense of belonging with rest of the general populace, if we make them forfeit their  Sri Lankan identity and brand them with the mark of suicide number Zahran, we will leave them no choice but to retreat to their  exclusive Kattankudy  Arabic resort town to settle down as  their chosen place of  residence; and worship violence at their mosques to seek salvation.

We must not lose sight of the fact that these suicide bombers and the powers behind them use Islam as their burqa beneath which they conceal their true faith: Terrorism, brainwashed to believe that terror is their stairway to heaven.

Unveiled: The burqa, hijab and niqab

HIJAB: Describes the act of covering up generally but is often used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in many styles and colours. The type most commonly worn in the West covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.

Apparently, the burqa makes its first public appearance in the Bible. In Genesis chapter 38.14 and 15. ‘ she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto to him to wife. When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot, because she had covered her face.

The Quran, apparently does not prescribe the burqa. What it commands is that both men and women must behave modestly and contains no precise prescription for how women should dress. Certain Quranic verses have been used in discussions of face veiling. Coming after a verse which instructs men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, verse 24:31 instructs women to do the same. It says in verse 24:31: Tell the believing women to lower their eyes, guard their private parts (furuj), and not display their charms (zina) except what is apparent outwardly, and cover their bosoms with their veils (khumur, sing. khimar) and not to show their finery except to their husbands or their fathers or fathers-in-law…

Even as Muslims here justify the keeping of swords to safeguard their womenfolk, the ‘mantle verse 33:59 has been used security as the reason for the veil to fall on a woman’s face. O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters, and the women of the faithful, to draw their wraps (jalabib, sing. jilbab) over them.”

France was the first country in the western world to start the burn the burqa campaign. And in 2004 students were banned from displaying any sort of religious symbol. In 2011, the government went further by bringing in a total public ban on full-face veils. President Nicolas Sarkozy saying they were “not welcome” in France.

NIQAB: Eyes only, the veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. However, it may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf.

The burqa appears to have originated in Persia in the 10th century, before slowly spreading to the Arabian Peninsula and present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Islamic scholars who hold that face veiling is not obligatory also base this on a narration from one of the canonical hadith which are sayings attributed to Muhammad, in which he tells ‘when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this”, pointing to her face and hands.

In Arabia, a variant known as the “niqab” was promoted by the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam; in South Asia, the burqa was adopted by the Deobandis, the local strand of fundamentalism.

When the Taliban captured Kabul and seized power over most of Afghanistan in 1996, they made it compulsory for all women to wear the burqa.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the garment remained largely unknown until relatively recently. It was the rise of the Wahhabi and Deobandi traditions which spread the burqa to areas where it was previously invisible, including West Africa.

Hardly any women wore the burqa in West Africa until two or three decades ago.

Some of the nations that have banned the burka are: Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, the Netherlands, Morocco and Sri Lanka.


BURKA: The ultimate cover up. The one-piece veil that covers the face and body, often leaving just a mesh screen to see through

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